Previous candidacy or offices held: Representative since 2004, Former Asheville City Board of Education chair
Key endorsements: Buncombe County Association of Educators PAC, N.C. Association of Educators PAC, Police Benevolent Association PAC, Lillian’s List, Giffords
Amount of money raised: $20,000
Top three donors: Mack Pearsall, Hank Teich, Rev. Robert Reese
Why are you running for re-election to the N.C. House of Representatives?
As an Asheville native, it has been my honor to represent the people of District 114 for the past seven terms. I have experienced being in the majority and the minority in the legislature and I believe that experience will be of benefit to the district if given the opportunity to continue to serve.
What state and local concerns are top of mind for voters in your district, and how do you plan to address them?
The biggest issues facing North Carolinians include; health care affordability and access; quality public education opportunities for our students (including increased teacher pay); the need for increased minimum wage for all workers. There will be so much that can be done to roll back the negative policy of the past decade, if we can achieve balanced representation in November. I will continue to sponsor legislation to increase the minimum wage and speak out against budget inconsistencies.
In a report released in January, Education Week ranks North Carolina 38th in the nation for student achievement and 45th for school finance. With per-pupil spending lower than pre-Great Recession levels, how will you approach education funding?
I will make public education funding a priority again. For the past eight-plus years, the Republican-led General Assembly has made it their priority to systematically defund public education in favor of voucher funding and tax cuts for the wealthy. My hope is that the November election will bring balance to the legislature that we have not seen in almost a decade. I plan to be a part of bringing new priorities and N.C. values back to the forefront of policy making.
Federal judges have deemed a number of North Carolina’s electoral districts illegal. How would you propose districts be drawn so that they are fair?
Several sessions ago, the House passed bipartisan legislation that would have created a nonpartisan redistricting commission, putting redistricting back into the hands of the voters instead of legislators being able to choose their voters. The Senate failed to take up the bill, but I am hopeful that we will see this or something similar become the solution to years of taxpayer dollars going to lawsuits over gerrymandered districts. I hope to be able to co-sponsor such a bill in the House.
Would you support raising North Carolina’s minimum wage above federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour)? If so, to what level? Additionally, do you support cities and/or counties being able to craft legislation to set a minimum or living wage?
I, along with several other House members, have been a primary sponsor of legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 in five years. During the last several sessions, the Republican leadership has refused to hear the bill. I will continue to keep this issue in the forefront of the public policy debate. It is important that cities be supported in their efforts to make policy that increases their citizens’ earning ability.
Which of the proposed state constitutional amendments that will appear on this year’s ballots do you support, and which do you oppose? Why? For the sake of brevity, you may key your answers with the following letters:
The proposed amendments that voters will see on the ballot are misleading and incomplete. This is the first time in our state’s history that we have seen amendments on the ballot without accompanying implementing legislation. The voters are being asked to vote without knowing all the information. The current legislature is scheduled to go back into session in late November after the election to pass enabling legislation. There will be no way to hold those legislators accountable by then because the election will already have taken place. Neither the state constitution nor the voters should be allowed to be manipulated in such a blatantly partisan manner. We should protect the constitution and vote no on all the amendments on the November ballot.
Kris Lindstam did not respond to repeated invitations to participate in the Xpress Voter Guide.